My 14 Holy Grail Korean Beauty Products

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Before I got into the K-drama wave, I was already an avid user of Korean beauty products for years. I don’t remember what my first K-beauty product was, but I believe it was a BB cream from Nature Republic. And although my relationship with BB creams is short-lived, there are still plenty of products which remained loyal to me. Mind you, I don't have the best skin in the world (and I blame genetics for that, lol!), but my skin has improved tremendously over the years.

korean beauty products shopping haul

Trust me: I’ve gone through so many bottles, tubes, and jars of western and Korean beauty products, but I have an affinity with the latter’s formula because it’s best suited to Asian skin. And I’ve got to say, I already knew which ones benefit my skin the most. I wasn’t born with the best skin but I saw the improvement after regular use of these products. Now that I understand what my skin loves, I always restock on my 14 holy grail beauty stash whenever I set foot in Korea.

1. Banila Co. Clean It Zero

Clean It Zero from Banila Co. has been my favorite go-to makeup cleanser. It can remove long-wearing matte foundation, as well as waterproof mascara. In addition, this cleansing balm is easy to store and carry when I travel. It has a light scent and a soft texture that easily melts on your face.

banila co. clean it zero cleansing balm

I used to like Etude House’s Perfect Cleansing Oil as it also does wonders in removing makeup and the pump bottle makes dispensing product easier as compared to the tub of Banila Co. However, I felt uncomfortable lathering oil onto my face in the long run.

clean it zero sherbet type cleansing balm

Clean It Zero has different variants that cater to different skin types. My first choice was the variant for Sensitive Skin. However, only the original pink version has the super size tub. Recently, Banila Co. has changed the packaging which I like better.

2. Nature Republic Jeju Sparkling Cleansing Tissue

The first time I bought this Jeju Sparkling Cleansing Tissue was during my trip to Busan. It was on sale at 50% off so I immediately got two packs. Luckily, my skin didn’t have any negative reaction to this product.

nature republic cleansing tissue (makeup remover wipes)

As compared to my favorite Nivea facial cleansing wipes, this one from Nature Republic has more moisture. I guess it’s because of the packaging where you have a reusable lid that locks in the sheets securely.

The cleansing tissue is soft to the skin and it doesn’t have a strong scent. The only downside is that when it’s left unused for more than two months, it has the tendency to smell bad after.

3. Etude House Moistfull Collagen Essence

Before Korean brands invaded our beauty regimen, we only have local and western moisturizers and creams to choose from. As someone with combination and semi-sensitive skin, it’s difficult to find a skincare product that doesn’t turn my face into a greased frying pan.

When I discovered Etude House Moistfull Collagen Essence, I knew this is something my skin would benefit from. Because my skin is dehydrated, the tendency is that it overproduces oil especially on my T-Zone. Having the collagen formula makes my skin hydrated and bouncy, and can also aid in slowing down skin aging.

An essence is a thin version of a serum, so it is definitely more lightweight and can be absorbed easily by the skin. I use the essence only in the morning after applying toner and before putting on makeup.

etude house moistfull collagen skincare in orange packaging

4. Etude House Moistfull Collagen Emulsion

At night, I use Moistfull Collagen Emulsion instead of the essence. Ideally, this should be applied after essence, but I find that emulsion alone is good enough to moisturize my skin. Emulsion differs from cream in the sense that emulsion is lighter and has a more hydrating property to it. Those with combination and oily skin will love the formula of emulsion because these are more liquid (and at times gel-like) which doesn’t clog the pores.

I tried about three emulsions in the past and I always go back to Moistfull Collagen. My face feels soft to the touch and my skin isn’t sticky at all. Aside from the formula, the price point is also fantastic as a bottle of Etude House Moistfull Collagen Emulsion lasts at least of 6 months of usage.

5. Nature Republic Royal Ginseng Silk Essence

Now if I want to feel more luxurious in my skincare regimen, I use Royal Ginseng Silk Essence from Nature Republic. My first-hand experience on this product was from my trip to Busan a year ago and I must say, I love how it pampers my skin every single time.

nature republic ginseng royal silk skincare in green packaging

Their Royal Ginseng Silk Essence line is intended for skin whitening, moisturizing, and wrinkle care. The ingredients include royal jelly with silk amino acids responsible for skin tightening, and red ginseng extract which serves as an anti-oxidant to replenish tired skin. The essence also has tiny gold particles which detoxifies and brightens the skin.

Comparing it to Etude House Moistfull Collagen Essence, this one from Nature Republic runs a bit thicker - almost like a cream consistency. When I use this, I only pump a tiny amount on my finger and evenly spread it out. I usually use this more during colder months when my skin needs a bit more moisturizing.

6. Nature Republic Royal Ginseng Silk Watery Cream

This is, by far, the most luxurious Korean cream I have ever tried. The packaging itself is extra fancy with its square glass jar (but impractical for travel as it is quite heavy). Similar to its essence version, this one has the same ingredients including the gold particles. What I noticed though is that the Royal Ginseng Silk Watery Cream has a lighter and less sticky formula than the essence.

nature republic skincare royal ginseng silk

This one smells so good. To me, it smells like clean soap or shampoo. I can’t exactly pinpoint the scent but definitely, it’s not floral nor citrus. This cream is so concentrated that you can skip eye cream in your routine (as recommended by their sales associates). I use this during the colder months and bring this one during my winter trips.

7. Etude House Silk Scarf Hair Essence

I’ve talked  about Etude House’s Silk Scarf Hair Essence in my post on 10 Beauty Products I Constantly Repurchase last year. And because I still find this useful in softening and giving life to my dry, colored hair, I bought bottles of this when I went to Seoul.

It smells really nice and although it has a gel-like consistency, it doesn’t weight down the hair. It leaves a nice scent that smells fresh and feminine altogether. I make about four pumps of this on my palm and finger comb through the ends of my hair. When you see this in Korea, buy this right away because it easily gets sold out in the Philippines.

etude house silk scarf hair care line

8. Etude House Silk Scarf Hair Treatment

For my weekly treatment, I also use the same Silk Scarf line from Etude House. This is another product that gets sold out easily, because it's really refreshing. It makes my hair smooth, soft, less frizzy, and fragrant. Trust me when I say this works like magic!

My sister swears by this product, that she uses this as her regular conditioner. If my hair were shorter, I’d probably do the same.

9. Etude House Wonder Pore Freshner

I use Wonder Pore Freshner as the final step in cleansing my face and before my skincare regimen. This toner claims to clean the pores, balance skin’s PH level, tighten pores, provide skin elasticity, bring back moisture, control sebum production, and prevent skin trouble such as acne.

etude house toner

For me, this toner works wonders in preventing acne, pimples, and related skin trouble. Even though I don’t notice that it tightens my pores or controls sebum, I have experienced its effectiveness by inhibiting skin trouble and irritation. I’ve used tons of other toners and I still ended up picking this as a holy grail product.

Having combination skin, I instantly feel after application that it brings back elasticity and moisture to my face after washing with a gel cleanser.

10. Etude House Drawing Eye Brow in #1

Hands down, my favorite Korean eye pencil goes to Etude House Color My Brows. This is also a holy grail eyebrow product for me because the quality and price point are unbeatable. It’s travel-friendly because of its automatic mechanism, and it’s easy to work with especially when you need to fill in your brows as quickly as possible. The brush at the other end is also a life saver when it comes to distributing the product and taming the brows.

I always choose the shade #1 as it’s perfect for those sporting a dark brown hair. It doesn’t have a reddish tone, so it’s perfect for those with black hair too, but don’t want their brows to look too dark and bushy. I like this because the color pay-off is even and I don’t experience tugging. I must say that the key here is to apply a base powder first (like a compact or loose powder) on your face before applying the eyebrow product.

etude house brow mascara and brow pencil

11. Etude House Color My Brows in 01

If you’ve been following my blog, it’s no surprise that I swear by Etude House Color My Brows in 01 Rich Brown. Not only is this product affordable, but it covers my eyebrow strands evenly. I don’t need to dip the brush in the tube multiple times just to get a decent amount of product. It’s not too liquid at all and it holds the brows in place all day long.

When I left my tube at home in the Philippines, I tried testing brow mascaras from MAC and Anastasia Beverly Hills, but the quality and price of this product can’t be beaten. The consistency is thicker so it covers the hair strands like a breeze. The small bristles and pointed tip makes it easy to groom the brows without smudging the product outside of the brow area.

12. Innisfree Jeju Orchid Eye Cream

I’ve had bad and good experience with eye creams before and I can say this one from Innisfree works for me. Although it doesn’t do anything to my current eyebag situation, I find this to be moisturizing enough to prevent wrinkles around my eye area. I do have a couple of fine lines (which are noticeable when I apply too much concealer, foundation, or powder in my under eyes), but I don’t have crows feet yet even if I age.

innisfree eye cream in violet jar

What I like about this eye cream is that it gets absorbed by the thin skin layer around the eyes, but it doesn’t leave you with a sticky feel. You can apply concealer and other makeup on top of the cream and your makeup will stay put while keeping your eye area moisturized.

This anti-aging cream has anti-oxidants which are responsible for smoothening the skin. Although the product doesn’t say much about under eye circles, I feel like my dark circles have lessened after a year of use. This is now my second pot and I wish I bought another back-up because the price is way cheaper in Korea.

13. Nature Republic Hand Cream

I’ve always been accustomed to having dry hands, that’s why I always carry a tube of hand cream with me. My favorite ones are always from Nature Republic because they’re not just effective (they last on me for hours), but travel-friendly and fragrant, too. I’ve used other well-known brands, but after an hour, I needed to re-apply hand cream which makes it more costly to use.

12 pieces hand cream

I like how the consistency is a lot thicker than normal hand lotion you find in the drugstore. Plus, you get a variety of scents not limited to floral ones. My favorite variants are Green Tea and Grapefruit. In Korea, you can mix and match the scents if you’re buying in bulk or BOGO.

14. Nature Republic Snail Sheet Mask

Finally, one of the most effective, acne-fighting solutions (together with my Etude House Clean Up Pink Powder Spot) is a sheet mask. This snail mask from Nature Republic is one of my favorites - the other two being Bija and Pomegranate from Innisfree’s It’s Real Squeeze Mask line.

sheet masks
Etude House Snail, Holika Holika Makgeolli, Nature Republic Aloe, and Nature Republic Snail Sheet Masks
What I love about sheet masks is that each pack is filled and enriched with essence. Although the sheet mask’s aim is to provide hydration and moisture, I’ve used these to “treat” pressing acne situation. What I do is apply the sheet mask at night everyday for 5 to 7 consecutive days and let it sit on my face for 20-30 minutes. After removing the sheet mask, I massage the leftover essence onto my face and neck. Then I use the Pink Powder Spot (not in the photo) to spot treat acnes.

These sheet masks are affordable, but the essence feels so rich on the skin. I like keeping these masks inside the fridge because I like the mask cold when applied to my face. It takes away the stress and makes my skin more refreshed!


Have you used any of these Korean beauty products? Which of these do you like best? If you can recommend other K-beauty must-haves you think I should try, leave me a comment below. I’d love to know your favorites, too!


Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. The contents of this entry are purely my opinion and 100% honest based on my travel and shopping experience.

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